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   Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence and Manuscripts, 1884-1973

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence and Manuscripts; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


Primarily consists of correspondence between the English author and literary critic Arthur Symons (1865-1945) and his wife, Rhoda Bowser Symons (1874?-1936). A small amount of the Symons’ correspondence with others, Arthur Symons' manuscripts, and correspondence about the collection is also included.

At a Glance

Bib ID:4079613 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945.
Title:Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence and Manuscripts, 1884-1973
Physical description:11 linear ft. (26 boxes)
Language(s):In English
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Correspondence between Arthur and Rhoda Symons is arranged chronologically. The Symons' incoming correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order by the sender's last name, and outgoing correspondence is arranged by the recipient's last name. Manuscripts are arranged in alphabetical order by title.

The collection is arranged into three series:

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Scope and Content

Correspondence, manuscripts and printed materials. The bulk of the collection is composed of 1,016 letters from Arthur Symons to his wife, Rhoda, and 1,045 letters from Rhoda Bowser Symons to Arthur Symons. The letters date from 1898, shortly after the pair were introduced, through 1936. They discuss Arthur Symons’ literary career and Rhoda Bowser Symons’ theatrical career, other contemporary literary and theatrical figures, family life, and the mental breakdown Arthur suffered in 1908-1909.

A small amount of the Symons' correspondence with others is also included. Some of Arthur Symons’ personal and professional correspondence, dating from 1884 to 1944, is present. Many of the letters addressed to Rhoda Bowser Symons were written at the time of Arthur Symons' mental breakdown, and discuss his health and treatment. Other Rhoda Bowser-Symons correspondence concerns Rhoda's family, the Bowser family of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and her theatrical career. Notable correspondents of the Symons’ include Auguste Rodin, Louis Napoleon Parker, Vincent O’Sullivan, and Montague Summers.

Finally, 19 letters to Lucy Bowser Featherston—Rhoda Bowser Symons’ niece and a former owner of this collection—are included. These letters date from 1946-1973 and primarily concern research about Arthur Symons.

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Using the Collection


Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence and Manuscripts; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers Entered in AMC 12/04/1990

48 letters & 1 poem Added to AMC 03/06/1992 HR

26 letters, 1 intro. & 1 contract Cataloged 07/10/1992 HR

AS letter to Seumas o'Sullivan. Cataloged 10/12/1998 HR

This collection was processed by HR in 1990, 1992, and 1998.

Finding aid written by HR in 1998 and revised by CLB in July 2018.

The collection was originally called the Arthur Symons Papers. The title was changed in July 2018 to more accurately reflect the contents of the collection, to align with DACS principles, and to recognize Rhoda Bowser Symons’ role as co-creator. At the same time, a container list was added to the finding aid, the front matter was revised, and the collection was arranged into series.

A group of materials belonging to the British writer and bibliographer A. J. A. Symons (no relation to Arthur Symons) was erroneously described as a component of this collection between 2017 and 2018. These materials were separated in July 2018 and retitled the Stuart B. Schimmel Collection of A. J. A. Symons Papers (MS #1939).

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 26, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-06-26 File created.
    2018-07-09 Removed "Donor permission required to see" restriction. KWS
    2018-07-09 Collection title changed and custodial history updated with Lucy Featherston provenance information. CLB
    2018-07-13 Added container list, revised front matter, and arranged collection into series. CLB

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

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HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Acting--England--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Authors, English--19th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Authors, English--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bowser family.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Critics--England--19th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Critics--England--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
English drama--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gosse, Edmund, 1849-1928.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gosse, Ellen,--Lady.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
John, Augustus, 1878-1961.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mental illness and literature.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
O'Sullivan, Seumas, 1879-1958.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poets, English--19th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poets, English--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Symbolism in art.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Symbolism in literature.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Symons, Rhoda, 1874?-1936.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women in the theater--England--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Arthur Symons (1865-1945) was a British poet, critic, editor, and translator. He is best known for his 1899 critical work The Symbolist Movement in Literature, which introduced the work of French Symbolist poets to Anglo-American literary circles and strongly influenced the work of William Butler Yeats and T. S. Eliot. Other works by Symons include the poetic volumes Days and Nights (1889) and Silhouettes (1892), and Confessions: A Study in Pathology (1930), a memoir of his 1908 mental breakdown and treatment. Born in Wales, Symons spent much of his career living in London. He was a member of the Rhymers’ Club and editor of the short-lived but influential literary magazine The Savoy.

Rhoda Bowser Symons (1874?-1936) was a British actress and musician. She was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to John Edward Bowser, a wealthy ship-builder and -owner, and Isabella Bowser. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she met Arthur Symons in 1898. Before her marriage to Arthur in 1901, she pursued a theatrical career, to which she returned after 1912.

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